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10 things you can eat to help tackle high cholesterol

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it’s time to take action towards a healthier life!

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which continues to be one of the principal causes of death in the western world 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854945/ High levels of LDL cholesterol (i.e. “the bad cholesterol”) increases your risk of stroke and heart disease.2https://irishheart.ie/heart-and-stroke-conditions-a-z/high-cholesterol/#section-definition As with most illnesses and diseases, diet can majorly influence serum cholesterol levels, and therefore risk of developing CVD. Some simple lifestyle changes and dietary considerations can make a big difference.

We hear a lot about things we should stop doing, in order to cope with high cholesterol. But here are 10 things you can add to your diet, to get things on a better track!

1. Kefir

If you’re a Friend of the Goats, it won’t surprise you to hear that including kefir as part of a healthy diet aids in lowering cholesterol. The kefir grains that ferment milk are capable of reducing the cholesterol in the milk by 41-84%. Animal studies have demonstrated the cholesterol-lowering abilities of kefir and highlighted an association with cholesterol metabolism.3https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854945/ Make kefir part of your morning routine in a delicious Gut-Brain Health Smoothie!

2. Fish Oil

Research on the effects of Fish oil alone on cholesterol is conflicting. However, it is known that eating Omega-3-rich foods (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, flaxseeds, and walnuts) have other heart-health benefits such as lowering blood pressure.4https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935

3. Garlic

Garlic has been shown to have multiple health benefits, one of which is lowering cholesterol. It also reduces the risk of heart attack and protects against blood clots. The combination of fish oil and garlic can result in a significant reduction in cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and blood fat levels.5https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/3-heart-disease-the-facts/6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9022529/ Daily consumption of ½ – 1 clove of garlic lowers cholesterol by ~10%.7https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977979/8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8182837/9https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8363171/ Don’t fancy eating that much garlic? Don’t worry – you can also get garlic in supplement form. Garlic-comprising diets produce the lowest levels of cholesterol with no known side effects10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4655638/ – win win!

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cholesterol and other fats from being damaged in the arteries. Food sources include cereals, vegetable oils, poultry, eggs, fruit, and wheat germ. Taking a daily protective dose of Vitamin E can substantially benefit in the reduction of heart attack risk.11https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/3-heart-disease-the-facts/12https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735930/ When choosing a Vitamin E supplement, opt for a naturally-occurring mix of tocopherols.13https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/3-heart-disease-the-facts/

5. Plant Sterols

Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. Plant Sterols (also known as phytosterols) can lower this LDL-C. A significant amount of evidence suggests supplements with plant sterols reduce cholesterol levels.14https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/3-heart-disease-the-facts/ Eating 1.5-3g of plant stanols, whilst following a healthy diet, leads to a reduction in cholesterol.15https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/cholesterol.html

6. Niacin

Niacin (a B Vitamin) lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases HDL (good) cholesterol.16https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/fish-oil-vs-statins#q-a-other-cholesterol-drugs This vitamin is found in chicken, turkey, fish, nuts and seeds, brown rice, bananas, legumes, and lots of other foods.

7. Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins – beneficial compounds contained in berries plus many other plant foods – have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in overweight people. It’s important to note that the same results were not identified in those of a healthy weight. Several studies have demonstrated a lower cardiovascular disease risk with increased consumption of anthocyanins.17https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26761031/ Simply eat a colourful-rich variety of fruits and vegetables to add more anthocyanins to your diet. Find some colourful recipe inspo here!

8. Red Clover

Red clover (a wild flowering plant) has frequently been used in traditional medicine for lowering high cholesterol (as well as other benefits such as aiding osteoporosis and symptoms of menopause!). Studies have demonstrated this cholesterol-lowering effect in older, menopausal women, but further research is needed on the general population.18https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-clover#benefits19https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31883666/

9. Cayenne

Cayenne is another helpful herb, known to reduce levels of blood cholesterol and assist in reducing blood pressure.20https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4655638/ This can be added easily to meals or alternatively taken in supplement form.

10. CoQ10

CoQ10 is a nutrient that occurs naturally in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant that has the capacity to improve heart function. Those who take Statins (medication used to lower high cholesterol) have lower levels of CoQ10 in their body. Supplementing with an oil-based form of CoQ10 may reduce this side effect of statins and help achieve health-promoting levels of this nutrient.21https://www.healthline.com/health/coq10-and-statins#statins

If you are already taking medication for high cholesterol, we suggest that you check with your GP before implementing any new protocols. And always check for contraindications! Combat your high cholesterol even further with these lifestyle changes – “Help, I’ve got High Cholesterol! 8 Tips to help“.

References

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